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Bahamas once again extends Haiti travel ban

The Bahamas has extended a ban against travel from Haiti for another 30 days over concerns about the potential import of COIVD-19, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to advise members of the public that the suspension of travelers directly from, or transiting through Haiti will continue … effective May 12, 2021, for 30 days,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Bahamas government found it necessary to take this measure, given the continuing uncertainties regarding the management of the pandemic in Haiti.

“The Bahamas government also remains concerned that the government of Haiti still has not accepted the AstraZeneca vaccine offered under the … COVAX Facility, and still has not put an alternative measure for vaccination in place.

“As The Bahamas seeks to manage the spread of the virus within its own borders, the government, based on the advice of health officials, deemed it necessary to take this measure to prevent risk to the nationals and residents of The Bahamas, as well as visitors to our shores.”

This is the third time The Bahamas extended the ban on Haiti. It was first introduced in February 2021, for a period of 21 days.

At the time, new COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas were relatively low, and Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the move was implemented because Haiti was moving forward with its local carnival season.

“We are concerned that citizens traveling to and from Haiti may expose us to a greater risk of spread of COVID, which we are trying to avoid,” Minnis said at the time.

“Obviously, a carnival-like atmosphere extends the possibility of what we’re trying to avoid and avert in The Bahamas.”

When the ban was first extended in March for a period of 30 days, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said the extension was necessary because “the government is of the view that travel between Haiti and The Bahamas is contributing to an increase in COVID cases in The Bahamas”.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield said the ban was extended again last month because Haiti did not have a vaccination program in place.

Over the past two months, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in The Bahamas have increased notably, with the country recording twice as many cases in April as it did in March.

By comparison, new confirmed cases in Haiti have decreased steadily since early this year.

With a population of 11.2 million people, Haiti has been regularly reporting fewer than 100 new COVID cases per day in recent months. 

The Bahamas, with a much smaller population of roughly 400,000, has been reporting similar daily counts.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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